Monitoring slope movement

Since time in memoriam, open cut and underground miners have competed over who has the harder job.

Underground miners claim their profession is the hardest due to the nature of mining under the earth, while open cut miners claim that the hive of activity that is an open pit makes the job more difficult.

However, something that both miners face is the danger of the mine’s walls unexpectedly shifting or moving, which can lead to a disaster.

This safety issue is always at the back of any miner’s thoughts, especially those working in open cut pits, where walls can suddenly and without warning, shift – bringing down tonnes of rock and dirt.

And according to the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy, between 2004 and 2009 in the State there were 168 mining accidents that occurred in the open cut itself; showing just how dangerous this area can be.

To tackle at least one of these open cut issues and revolutionise safety on site, GroundProbe has released the Work Area Monitor (WAM).

This unique slope monitoring system is a new easy to use, rugged mobile tool designed to keep mining crews safe and aids in overcoming one of the more dangerous aspects of open pits.

The system itself alerts the work crews when wall movement is detected on a slope above the work areas in an open cut mine.

The slope monitor uses a camera and radar to allow a work crew to quickly select the area to look over and monitor for minute movements.

If any movement has been detected, the WAM then alerts the nearby crews via wireless Personal Alerts that display emergency text messages, audio, visual and vibrating alerts while at the same time sounding local lights and sirens to warn miners.

The alerting thresholds can be can be adjusted to suit a range of applications.

The Work Area Monitor can be integrated into any light vehicle such as a mine worthy Hilux or other utes, for mobility and quick deployment to the preferred location, where it can be set up in less than a minute and requires no technical skills to operate.

According to the company the device can detect when an area much smaller than a bench has moved.

This means that mining crews can now detect if large rocks or loose material has moved on the slope, as opposed to entire bench sized movements, allowing for more thorough monitoring and remedial action if required.

The WAM can be used by mines for drill and blast crews, horizontal drilling, pre-split drilling, truck and shovel operators, face scaling and cleaning, and for any other work that is taking place under or by slopes.

To date, the Work Area Monitor has already been well received within the industry, being taken up at several metalliferous and coal mines.

Sherwood Geotechnical and Research Services consultant John Simmons said the development of this technology is a huge advance for open cut mining.

He went on to say that it is improving day to day productivity and safety in pits as well as in quarries.

The WAM is available through Australia for either hire or purchase.

GroundProbe previously launched the Slope Stability Radar in 2003.

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